Stubbs: Spirit Sneaked Win
U21s boss says luck and character aided victory over Blackburn.
Alan Stubbs was grateful for a fortunate three points after Everton Under-21s rallied to a 3-2 win at home to Blackburn Rovers on Monday evening.
Goals from Ross Barkley, Apostolos Vellios and Conor McAleny in the final 15 minutes at Haig Avenue provided the drama as the Blues came back from 2-0 down to seal the win.
And despite the result helping to extend the young Blues' unbeaten start to 2013, boss Stubbs conceded the result was harsh on the visitors.
He told evertontv: "I didn't think at 2-0 down that I'd be stood here talking about a win. I didn't think we played well tonight.
"We started the game slowly, found ourselves two goals behind and we couldn't really complain about that. To be talking about winning the game is a bit unfair to be honest.
"I spoke to the lads in the dressing room about a couple of positives - and it really was only a couple. One of them was that they showed the character to come back.
"With the majority of these lads, 18 months ago we would have lost that game, no doubt about it. That's one thing they have got - a good team spirit, camaraderie amongst themselves.
"That showed through in the end. We didn't deserve to win the game but I thought we did enough to get back into it. For us to win it will be a sore one for Blackburn.
Everton currently lead Group One of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, with only the side finishing top able to continue into the play-offs at the end of the campaign.
A fourth win in five has now increased the gap between second-placed Chelsea to four points, and Stubbs admitted the latest triumph was down to a mixture of luck and composure.
"Ross' goal was the lifeline we needed," he said. "It was one of those nights where nothing really went for us. Our passing was sloppy at times and we didn't win enough second balls. It was nearly a 'nearly' night for us so how we've won the game, I don't know. That's football - it's a strange and cruel game at times.
"The one thing I would say is that we've got quality on the pitch. When you've got quality and you get given opportunities, more often than not, the quality takes them. That proved to be the case tonight.
"Vellios could easily have volleyed his and gone to hit it hard, but he showed a lot of calmness to side-foot it into the bottom corner. The same with Conor's goal – although I've seen it and he's a couple of yards offside.
"Tonight we've had a night where everything's gone our way. I'm not complaining, because there'll be nights where it'll be on the other foot and I'll be saying things have gone against us, but it was a bit harsh on Blackburn."
Next up for Everton Under-21s is a trip to face Chelsea on Monday 11 March.